The following minutes have not been approved by the Board of Directors. They will receive final approval at the next Board of Directors meeting.
TANGLEWOOD HOMEOWNERS ASSOC OF SEBRING, INC.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS MONTHLY MEETING MINUTES
APRIL 17, 2019
The BOD meeting was called to order by President, Charlie Coupe, at 7:00 pm in the Tanglewood Clubhouse Bingo area. The meeting opened with the Pledge of Allegiance. Estimated number of residents in attendance was approximately 350. All residents are welcome to attend the HOA monthly meetings, whether a paid member or not.
President, Charlie Coupe, reviewed the history of the lawsuit against HTA. In 2017, our attorney came to inspect the roads and lack of maintenance; referencing Florida Statute 723, a maintenance complaint was registered and repairs began shortly thereafter. In 2018 many drains, not having been sealed properly, failed with cave-ins and depressions which were exacerbated after the flooding caused by Hurricane Irma. HTA stated that the cost of repairs could be passed on to the residents. Jim Inch joined the board in February 2019 as a Canadian registered Civil Engineer. Alarming discovery at this point was that the permits for work were issued from HTA in Chicago, not from John Greytuk. The property of Tanglewood was owned by HTA from the beginning; John Greytak was simply the developer, not the owner as previously thought. The lawsuit began in 2017 citing unreasonable rent and road negligence.
Charlie introduced Brandon Craig, attorney for BOD, and asked him to address what’s happened since the lawsuit was filed, the current status, and the future plans.
Attorney Brandon Craig addressed our concerns by first discussing how the lawsuit came about: Months, if not a year before the suit was filed, the members of your Board worked diligently to compare the rent of similar parks and the results were exactly as we suspected, noting that Tanglewood’s market rent is substantially higher, which is prohibited by Florida Statute 723-033. What adds insult to injury is that while your rents are going up, the condition of your amenities are declining, the most visible being the roads. Members of the community and members of your board circulated a petition and collected 598 signatures which represented a majority of the community ,that authorized the HOA to take such action as necessary to get the rents down to market and get the amenities back to where they should be. Before filing suit, we tried everything that we could. We tried negotiating with HTA directly; it did not work. We tried mediation; it did not work. It left us with no other option than filing a lawsuit protesting the increase in the rent and decline of amenities. We filed the complaint September of 2017. HTA filed a motion to dismiss. We defeated the motion to dismiss and our complaint still stands. After the hearing we started in on discovery and the step that we’re working on right now is to get the court to recognize the HOA as a class action representative for the homeowners in Tanglewood. The next hearing coming up on that is in the beginning of July.
Where are we and how long is this going to take? It takes months to get hearings; its not as timely as we wish it would be. We will then continue motion practice which will eventually lead up to a trial. Your Board is very adamant about resolving this in a timely manner. However, the wheels of justice turn slowly. There’s not going to be a quick resolution to this case, and, I do not anticipate this being resolved this year and if we could get it to trial next year, we’d be doing good. I can also tell you this. HTA is not just going to roll over. They have too much money on the line. In reading the recent letter from Stephen Braun, it points out that the increase in rent from 2.9% last year to 3.9% this year increased their revenue by $400,000. They’re not going to give up easily and this is going to be a long road to finally take this to trial. I do want to comment that your BOD, they work very hard. They have done a lot of due diligence before filing this lawsuit, during the span of this lawsuit, researching marketable rents, the deterioration of the infrastructure and the amenities. They’re very involved in this community and they are very professional and diligent and they do nothing but look out for the best interest of this community. Thank you for your time.
Roll call was taken by Merritt Wiley: Charlie Coupe, Don Toth, Bob Cartwright, Jack Nelson, Merritt Wiley, Tom Guinther, Judith Eckstein, Bob Sisson and Janet Peterson. Excused- Jim Inch. We have a quorum.
REPORTS FROM OFFICERS AND COMMITTEES:
TREASURER – BOB CARTWRIGHT – REPORT: Amending previous report by $3.33 with a credit received from Office Depot. Bob registered it as income and the bank didn’t; it is resolved. That changed the balance as of February 28, 2019 to $26,974.97. Beginning March 1, 2019 we had expenses which totaled $567.23 and income of $1285.00 bringing the ending balance as of March 31, 2019 to $27,692.74
MEMBERSHIP – BOB CARTWRIGHT – REPORT: Recap from March meeting, 628 paid dues and $6495 in additional donations. To date:
- $3239.94 from fundraising efforts ($3609 less costs of $369.06). Thanks were given to Janet Peterson for her efforts in this undertaking
- 658 paid dues, nearing 2018’s total of 680 (additional memberships tonight)
- $7,065 in additional paid dues
- Total collected in dues, $13,160.
- Grand total to date, $20,225
- Percentage of members paid to date, 60.2%
- Legal fees since October 5, 2017 to date, $14,676.50 includes recent bill
- Motion made to approve by Janet Peterson, seconded by Judith Eckstein so moved, and all in favor.
ACTING SECRETARY- MERRITT WILEY – REPORT: Merritt introduced Mary Lee Cipriano who volunteered to act on the Secretary’s committee to record and write the minutes. Minutes will then be passed on to Merritt who will in turn forward them to all board members for their reading, corrections and final approval. The corrected minutes will be posted on our web site and bulletin board and will be labeled “Unapproved”. Final approval will be at the next board meeting. The board has made this procedural change at the request of some of our residents.
DIRECTOR – TOM GUINTHER – LEGAL REPORT: As stated by our attorney, it should be clear to everyone on the status of our lawsuit that this moves slowly. If I tell you there is nothing to report, that’s the case. We’re waiting out the time period for our court date. When something does occur, I’ll be the first to tell you. Some complaints: the by-laws are out of date. We know that. We’ve formed a by-law committee including myself and seven members like yourselves to review and update those items that need to be changed. We’re working diligently but that doesn’t mean it can be done overnight. We’ve met 3-4 times and will continue to meet until such time that we will present our information to the board. The parts of the by-laws that we’ve identified as needing to be altered: the number of members and how they come up for re-election; the Nominating Committee itself. We’ve talked of eliminating this committee and having the nominations come from the floor, from the members themselves. The by-laws have to comply with Florida statute 723 so changes must be legally accomplished.
DIRECTOR – JACK NELSON- GATE AND SECURITY REPORT: Went to a meeting with Tammy last week to discuss the gates only. Roads cannot be discussed due to the pending lawsuit.
- Brooker from Brooker Fence here a week ago to do new estimate for the gate
- Will present his info to Tammy but no guarantee this will be done even though we were told the gates would be dealt with in 2019
- Gate code got released. Due to a failure of the gate, Gary told Jan Carbough to put the code on NextDoor. Security issue. It went to 17 different parks. When asked to change the code, Tammy at first said no; but reconsidered, and said she would reapply to change the code.
- Recommendations: lock windows; keep doors locked; don’t leave shed doors open during the day; don’t leave keys in golf cart; keep vehicles locked; be careful what you leave outside, it could be stolen.
- Charlie Coupe added: Call the office to express concern on security; write comments and suggestions on our forms; lock up until this is resolved.
DIRECTOR – JANET PETERSON- COMMENTS AND SUGGESTIONS REPORT: Charlie Coupe praised Janet for her efforts in organizing the fantastic fundraising party for the board. Every person, comment and suggestion is important. It is our intention to work together with management to keep Tanglewood a safe, pleasant and desirable place to reside. We want to thank you for using our process. Comments and Suggestion forms are located in the back of the room. Your names and numbers are kept confidential and only used for the purpose of contacting you for clarification. Feel free to use the back and attach pictures.
On April 10 we reviewed March items: neglected properties, yellow fences (water stains); time change on clocks; electronic message board changed once a week only; fix pool music; soft patch in road weakened by trucks; many potholes; pothole in Safari Hunt; big hole with in Whistlestop (phase 3); seating issues at Country Breakfast; back gate sprinklers wetting cars. Info was requested on sales; HOA research determined that 500 sq ft homes in other parks are going for $70 K. We were asked to have Bob read the monthly attorney reports: we are in a lawsuit. We can’t reveal everything we know. If we did, something could be leaked out. Relatives of HTA could be living in the park. We can’t give out information that our attorney has collected when we’re in a case against them.
Charlie Coupe regarding information that comes across legally, adds there are 968 email addresses in the mail system. Though only 40% of residents are here in the summer, email can reach everyone. That’s our best way of reaching everyone.
DIRECTOR – JUDITH ECKSTEIN – RESALES AND RENTALS REPORT: Giving February and March reports:
February sales: HTA 9 sold Avg $56,000
4 Star 2 sold Avg $28,700
FL Mobile 1 sold $12,500
Private 1 sold $44,000
March sales: HTA 5 sold Avg $42.180
4 Star 5 sold Avg $38,300
FL Mobile 0 sold
Private 1 sold $27,000
Summary: 2019 to date, 31 sold. Same period in 2018. 39 sold. All of 2018, total 152 sold.
Motion made by Jack to accept all committee reports; second, Janet. Vote to accept reports was unanimous.
OLD BUSINESS: None.
NEW BUSINESS: Charlie Coupe asked Jack Nelson to speak on the petitions being circulated. By-laws: rules and regulations established by an organization or a community to regulate itself as allowed or provided by a higher authority. You have to refer to the higher authority which is Florida Statute 723, and also, Florida Administrative Code 61, #29-35. In the by-laws when you look up removing an officer from the board, you see one or two paragraphs. When you go to the Administrative Code, you’ve got three pages. Question stated about not having a lawyer on the board; Bob is on the board. Note, while Bob is an outstanding lawyer in the state of Wisconsin, he can’t practice in Florida. With his assistance with Ables & Craig, the lawsuit was filed. It’s now in the hands of the attorneys, Ables & Craig and HTA.
Transparency: People are saying we’re not transparent. At every meeting we explain what we’re doing and what the results are. As per 723, we hold informal meetings to discuss what to bring to the floor to create an agenda. Members are not involved, by law. Chapter 723 – 078, Section 4, paragraph 1, requires that board and committee meetings are open to the public, but does not apply to meetings for the purpose of discussing personal matters, or meetings between the board and a committee or the association attorney. The HOA board periodically holds these executive session meetings in which members are not involved.
Note: 723 was upgraded from 2015 to 2018 and we did not catch that change; also the Administrative Code was changed in 2016. We know by-laws have to be changed and its important to go through these statute changes line by line. We’ve got a committee that’s doing that and we’re sure they’ll do a fantastic job. What transpired here was an issue of the by-laws.
Election: We had an issue regarding how the election should be run. Unfortunately we have to follow the by-laws. We made a decision at the meeting before February, that we could not do anything at that time to change the by-laws. It has to be done by our Board and sent to the lawyer for approval. Bob is not a Florida lawyer and doesn’t know all these codes that enforce our actions. All state codes are different and that’s why an attorney has to pass a bar exam in each state in order to practice there. We voted as a board that we would stay the election process until the next period and will have the new process in place for the next election. The members will be the ones to tell us to get out or stay. Its up to you. (Applause).
Recalled officers: People are very misinformed as to what’s going on here. A situation occurred at our last informal meeting because a gentleman got upset that we wouldn’t make a change to our voting rules that night. He then got angry and started shouting obscenities at Charlie’s house in front of his wife. Charlie was upset and the board was upset. Jack challenged Bob on it and pointed out that we were in Charlie’s house and this wasn’t appropriate. Charlie asked for the resignation of Mr. Sisson which was denied and he’s still on the board. We have diversity on this board and great leadership. Charlie is just getting into this amidst all this turmoil and its not easy. Will he make mistakes? Yes, we all do. We all learn from our mistakes. We had many as we started this HOA. The problem were facing now is the result of two disgruntled individuals. The board is trying to address these issues; this is a working board and we’ll all work together as we go through this thing. Unfortunately there are people in the community who are hearing only one side of this issue, the negative side against the board of directors. There have been disparaging, denigrating comments made out there on NextDoor; some of the remarks are being made by someone who’s said outright that he hasn’t been to a meeting in months. So what’s he commenting for? What’s his point?
What happens at the informal board meetings is not in front of the public, but our past secretary, Donna Scorse, took it upon herself to have somebody print and distribute confidential material that was board material only. The only people who had access to that material was the HOA board and nobody else. There’s only one way that information got out there. We turned that over to our lawyer for him to make a decision what we should do with that and how to deal with that because it was a definite breach of confidentiality.
On the 21st of February, the day after the board meeting, Donna sent a letter to Tom Guinther: “Tom, can we dissolve the HOA?” Let’s think about this. What’s going on? Why is this happening? Shortly after this, she resigned as secretary. We have that document. This is exactly what HTA wants to hear. They’d love to see this happen. If this board goes down the tube, and this HOA goes down the tube, that lawsuit goes down the tube with it along with the $22,000 we’ve already spent on it.
A member of the HOA who sells their home in this park, is no longer a member. Members are people who own homes in the park or lease a lot. If they rent a lot, they can become an associate member. Donna is no longer a member of this HOA. She sold her house as of February 9. She is renting a house; she has not come forward to apply for associate membership. Associate members have all the freedoms of everyone else but they cannot vote. She can’t be a board member because board members have to be able to vote; but she can be on a committee or whatever else she wants to be on. Chapter 723-078, Mobile Home Subdivision HOA Section B states members must be bona fide homeowners. That’s the law.
Article 6, Section 3: any member may be removed from the board, without cause, by a majority of all votes of members of the association. A special meeting by members to recall a member of the board may be called by 10% of the members after giving notice of the meeting as required for a meeting of the members. Notice shall state the purpose of this meeting. The signatures by law, when you go to the Administrative section of the Code, addresses signing of documents. Some people were told they were signing to change the by-laws. Some people have said they didn’t know what it was about. Some people thought it had something to do with the letter from HTA. How many people knew what the petition was actually for? (Mumbling, some hands). Not too many, right? If you signed that petition, did you put your lot number down on it? Did you put your name on it? Did you put your telephone number on it? Because, that is the legal format required by the Administrative Code to carry out the petition. To understand the complication of this action, you need to go to Florida Code Article 61B-29 to 3035. This is a complicated process, not just someone trying to get signatures from people.
As far as the meeting on Saturday (April 13) there were comments made. We were told there was a meeting up here. We were told it was about a petition. About 34-35 people showed up, along with the board of directors. We were sitting there, not saying anything. A person in the audience stood up and yelled, “What the hell is going on here? Is anybody going to talk to us? Is anybody going to tell us what’s going on?” Nobody responded. Donna Scorse stood there with her back turned to us. Another person got upset and made the same comments. Finally, I stood up (Jack) and I said, “All I can tell you is somebody has a vendetta against this HOA.” I read the law, and what it’s supposed to be, and I said, “That’s the bottom line.” We all got up and we left. That was it.
Letter from Mr. Braun, HTA: There are many issues with that letter from HTA. They claim the HOA is objecting to the rent increases every year. Well, yes, we have. Actually the HOA is only a bargaining entity so they can’t really say “the HOA”. We speak for you people. It’s the residents in the park who want something done about this rent issue in this park. And as to this park being in impeccable condition, I’d like to ask Mr. Braun to take a little ride around our 13 miles of streets, and I’ll bounce his brains out. Mr. Braun has not driven the roads, or had the road fall out from underneath his back wheels; or the front bumper of his car knocked off by the dips, or the rims being damaged by the raised catch basins, especially if you have low profile cars with mag wheels.
Charley Coupe, regarding the letter from HTA about the rents: The letter was sent to the lawyer. He reviewed it and said that HTA has the right to put out any letter they want to put out and say whatever they want to say. We feel that this is a breach of trust. In a suit situation, usually HTA would come back to the lawyer, they would state what their situations were, and make a counter offer. They didn’t do that. It was a blatant mistrust. This is how this company operates. In going forward, if we let this happen, its going to be a continuing situation. We have to let this suit progress, as it normally progresses. We have to have patience. We’re doing everything we possibly to gather all the evidence that we need to put in place, and its moving. I bought in 2006 and came down here permanently in 2009. In 2010, I formed a committee, an email group called the Voices of Tanglewood. This was an issue action committee. We had problems with the roofs. The roofs were leaking. Everybody was complaining. I made it a point to get hold of a lawyer in Bartel to find out the best process to come after these people here (HTA). In that process they did nothing more than seal, reseal the joints, which dried out and continued to leak. I went to the Board of Enforcement to ask what happened. Why weren’t these additions Permit-ed. There were never any permits pulled. For all these additions to our homes, they quoted that the permits were pulled under the house permit. I asked the building inspector, how can you do that? I was in the building business. When you build something, it should not leak. People complained. Nothing was done. Roofs continued to leak. Time went by and all of a sudden, Debbie Rogers said “We’re sorry but the warranty has run out and there’s nothing we can do.” How many people in here had roof leaks? Look at the hands! You talk about negligence and especially with what I read before, HTA had owned this place before. Why did they let this happen? What was the permitting process? Gary Jnpierre oversaw all the development of this park and everything that was going on. This permitting process totally fell apart. I was upset that my house was leaking and I had to pay somebody to fix it. A lot of people paid up to $1000 to fix these leaks and some of them are still leaking. That’s what we’re after. We need to chase this to the ends of the earth.
That’s where we’re at. We’ve issued our final reports. I’d like to make a motion to adjourn the meeting and we’ll go from there. Can I have a motion to adjourn the meeting?
Don Toth made a motion to adjourn, seconded by Judith Eckstein. All in favor say aye. The motion is carried. The floor is now opened up to questions.
Mary Lee Cipriano Recording Secretary